Why I Saw My First Psychiatrist, Part Four

See Why I Saw My First Psychiatrist, Part One and Why I Saw My First Psychiatrist, Part Two and Why I Saw My First Psychiatrist, Part Three for the full story.

And so, I found myself at twenty years old in a small office with Dr. Ragu, the psychiatrist to whom my medical doctor had referred me. I had no belief whatsoever that he would be able to help me, but nothing else had saved me from my hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety, and depression - not alcohol, not marijuana, not LSD, not food - and I was finally willing to pursue the officially accepted avenue afforded to those who do not know where else to turn. He handed me a styrofoam cup filled with water.

Why are you here? he asked.

I have to be. I'm depressed, paranoid, I said.

You don't have to be. You wanted to come. Why are you here?

I've been depressed my whole life, but I can't deal with it anymore. My voice sounded unconvincing and hollow, but that may have been the cheap office walls.

Is there more than just the depression? he asked.

Yes, but I don't want to talk about it, I said. I had never spoken openly about it before, and I was not sure that I wanted to start now. I felt like an idiot sitting across from him in that chair. I suddenly did not know why I was there.

But that's what you're here for, isn't it? The sooner you open up the better.

I guess, I said to my knees, which I noticed my thumbs were massaging compulsively.

Well? Why are you paranoid?

I decided to give in and tell him about the hallucinations. I needed to come clean, and his lilting East Indian accent was comforting.

I hallucinate. The words blew in tumbled breath past my lips.

Dr. Ragu's eyes lit up as though this were an exciting turn of events, and I could not help but smile at him. His face made the idea of hallucinating seem like fun. It wasn't, but I liked his enthusiasm. I told him about the six-inch aphids I saw crawling through his spider plants, the snow that fell softly most days despite the fact that it was July, and the bodies in vehicles at night. I still did not believe that psychiatry held any promise for me, but I liked letting my stories out into the air.

For the first time, I was not hidden and locked in a struggle to maintain a veneer of normalcy.

(This is also posted at RealMental.org)

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